If you’ve browsed Forever 21’s webstore recently, you’ll have noticed that something *big* is up. I actually stumbled upon it when I was looking to buy the same pair of ankle strap flats our resident Forever 21 stalker/Creative Coordinator Maddie picked up for a DIY shoot, and as I was scrolling, I saw these: a pair of zip-up flatform ankle boots — love at first sight for this black boot collector — that rang in at $89. $89 for one pair of boots at Forever 21, the same place that a pair of skinny jeans costs less than a tenner? What gives?
It turns out those boots weren’t your average Forever 21 fast-fashion fair. They were by Spanish label Sixtyseven, made with real leather and using Old World European construction standards, just one of a slew of indie brands now a part of Forever 21’s Branded Shop (you can find the hidden gem under the “Features” column when you hover over the “Women” tab on the homepage). Described as “a curated collection of brands we love” and currently featuring more than 100 small-batch and maker-made clothing, accessories, shoes and even home and beauty goods, including hot-right-now Korean beauty brands, the shop-within-a-shop is quite a turning point for the fashion retailer. Now that Forever 21 is priding quality and craftsmanship alongside the trendy clothing for cheap it has been traditionally known (and criticized) for, there’s major potential to start shifting its shoppers’ wear-it-once mentality. Don’t get us wrong; we can’t resist a good Forever 21 flavor of the month, but balancing that with unique, high-quality statement pieces is a great thing in our book.
To show off Forever 21’s newest feature, we’ve handpicked our favorite pieces from 11 must-shop indie labels in its Branded Shop. Get to know these bound-for-your-closet brands below.
1. The Whitepepper Trapeze Midi Dress ($108): If you go gaga for the playful patterns of makers like Dusen Dusen, you’ll fall hard for this East London fashion brand. Expect to find cozy girl-approved silhouettes that are just as cool as they are casual, whimsical prints and an impressive selection of statement bags, including a neon yellow clutch in the shape of a stegosaurus.
2. Otherworld Uluwatu Coastline Kimono ($179): Taking inspiration from babes who act on their wanderlust (“Two tickets to Bali, please!”), this brand is known for its luxe, free-flowing pieces that will take your summer festival gear to the next level.
3. Soko Hamsa Choker ($50): All of Soko’s gorgeous geometric jewelry is handmade by Kenyan artisans using natural and upcycled materials. Pieces like this hammered charm necklace are some of our favorite feel-good ways to look fashionable.
4. Clashist Sand Art One Piece ($120): You probably know Clashist for its cut-and-paste-style pop culture tees (we’re talking James Franco swimsuits, Bill Murray leggings and Jeff Goldlbum tees, you guys). But Forever 21 is repping the brand’s more abstract side with its collection of psychedelic prints across one-piece swimsuits, leggings, dresses and more.
5. Holika Holika Revitalizing Mask ($3): This Korean beauty line might have some of the quirkiest skincare packaging we’ve ever seen — think: a facial soap set nested in an egg carton, a wine-infused sleep mask housed in a barrel-shaped container and one-use sheet masks with super cutesy girl-on-the-go illustrations. Better yet, the formulas, some made with out-of-the-box ingredients, actually perform.
6. Spitfire Lennon 2 Sunglasses ($39): Slip on a pair of Spitfire shades and you instantly feel cooler (yes, this has been editor tested). I’ve been a longtime fan of this London-based brand whose latest collection merges expedition-style frames with reflective mirrored lenses and edgy metallic accents.
7. LAEX Embossed Translucent Card Holder ($23): You’ll side eye your tired old wallet the second you see this LA brand’s sparkly-shiny creations. Because now you *need* a translucent glitter wallet in your life.
8. Married to the Mob Shopping Tank ($32): NYC’s MTTM is a one-stop shop for sartorial sass. Its hashtag-worthy slouchy tees and muscle tanks say it all so you don’t have to explain your credit card bill (see above) or your Tinder habits (let the brand’s Great! Yawn. Next! tee take care of that awkward convo).
9. My Flash Trash Board and Palm Tree Ring Set ($25): My Flash Trash specializes in making cute, tiny charms to round out your everyday jewelry collection. This brand drives the point home that just because it’s delicate doesn’t mean it can’t be a statement maker — just look at this summer-ready ring set!
10. DCI Stereo and Cassette Lip Balm ($3): Make DCI your go-to brand for kitschy piñata filler or stocking stuffers your besties will *actually* use. Case in point: this $3 lip balm that comes in a boom box-shaped compact.
11. Tiger Mist Watercolor Floral Dress ($70): Created by two Australian sisters, this easygoing line mixes feminine detailing like ruffles, scalloped edges and lace overlays with modern silhouettes. Consider this your ultimate beach vacay wardrobe.
Will you be shopping the new Forever 21? Tell us about your favorite finds from the Branded Shop in the comments below.